Poland is awash with reminders of its complicated history. Krakow, the country’s main cultural centre, has wonderful architecture and an abundance of museums, galleries and historical sights, including the Wawel - an impressive castle and cathedral complex from which Poland was once governed. Kazimierz, the city’s old Jewish quarter, is now a thriving centre of bohemian bar culture, but its streets also serve as a poignant reminder of a community destroyed by the Nazis. Another huge part of Polish culture is Roman Catholicism, one of the few stable features in a national identity shaken by political upheaval. Visit the shrine of the Black Madonna at Częstochowa to see the country’s most important religious symbol.
The Polish countryside has nine national parks, ranging from the popular lake-land district of Mazury to the stunning, snow-capped Tatra mountains – one of the best hiking destinations in the whole country. Polish hospitality is legendary, so be friend…
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Lara Piegeler reviews Warsaw's eclectic culture and Mazovian countryside.